Ethiopian senior diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde has today, October 25, 2018, been approved as the country’s first female president.
Born on 21 February 1950, Zewde was elected to this powerful position by members of the Federal Parliamentary Assembly.
Addressing the parliament, the 68-year-old promised to promote peace and make gender equality a reality in Ethiopia.
She used the occasion to highlight the plight of mothers and women in Ethiopia, urging the lawmakers to work towards building a society that rejects the oppression of women.
Addresing parliament, she pledged to promote peace; "I urge you all, to uphold our peace, in the name of a mother, who is the first to suffer from the absence of peace.''
Her promotion follows the recent and unexpected resignation of Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome. Another shift in Ethiopia’s political system after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed conducted a cabinet reshuffle giving half of the country's ministerial seats to women.
Prior to her appointment, she served as the Special Representative of United Nations and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union at the level of Under-Secretary-General.
A Natural Sciences graduate of the University of Montpellier, France, Zewde has held various important roles throughout her career life. While in these positions, she introduced increasingly accountable practice at the national, regional and international levels.
Some of the positions she has held are:
The Ethiopian Ambassador to France, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).
Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Director-General for African Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador to Senegal, with accreditation to Mali, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Guinea.
Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Ambassador to Djibouti and Permanent Representative to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Here are some other facts about her:
1. She is the 4th president of Ethiopia since the powerful EPRDF coalition came into power.
2. She is a career diplomat – has served in Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Guinea and France
3. She is the immediate UN rep to AU before becoming president
4. She is fluent in Amharic, French and English
5. Her diplomatic carrier started as early as 1989
6. She is the second woman to hold an Ambassadorial position in the history of Ethiopia
7. She is the first born of four girls in her family
8. Her father was a senior officer in the imperial army who believed in education
9. She was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
10. She was appointed to replace Mulatu Teshome Wirtu who submitted his resignation with one year left of his term
11. She got a scholarship at the age of seventeen to study in France
12. She is married and is a mother of two sons.
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